the project
Project Impact

Our research will directly impact the following critical application scenarios. First, by removing the dominant costs of hot spots associated with wired infrastructure, a wireless TAP network will provide an economically viable and deployable architecture to provide large-scale high speed wireless access to large user populations. In particular, TAPs will exploit the cost-effectiveness of mass market wireless devices that have driven markets to the $50 access point, a cost-performance curve that cannot be achieved by wired AP infrastructure due to the physical necessities of wires (such as the expenditures of digging trenches and laying cables) and their device requirements (such as router line cards). These advantages will enable large-scale WiFi-based deployments with broad coverage versus today's small-scale hot spot islands.

Second, TAPs provide a key technology for true broadband to the home. Today's broadband-to-the-home efforts require that each person independently purchase a relatively low speed (100's of kb/sec) "broadband" connection from an ISP. The resulting high costs, moderate data rates, and requirement to use existing infrastructure (phone or CATV lines) has resulted in disappointing service and a dismal penetration rate of less than 10% of households. With TAPs, communities (through local governments) or new access providers can purchase a neighborhood T3 connection (for example) and deploy pole-top TAPs to provide low-cost, high-performance broadband to the home.

Finally, while office buildings typically have Ethernet drops as ubiquitous as power outlets, precluding the need for TAPs, other indoor public places do not. For example, providing WiFi access to an airport typically requires investments of $200k and up, again due largely to the high wiring costs. Moreover, such deployments provide coverage only to several isolated lounge areas and not airport-wide. In contrast, TAPs will provide a cost-effective means to provide larger-scale coverage without sacrificing performance.

Thus, our goal is nothing short of revolutionizing the wireless Internet: to transform from today's frustratingly slow, overpriced, unreliable wireless data services into a new wireless Internet at an unprecedented scale, economy, deployment, and performance.

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Transit Access Points (TAPs)
ECE Department, MS 380
Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005-1892